AFI Fest Review: Miss Sloane lobbies for some award season love.
Miss Sloane tells the story of Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), a fierce no-nonsense lobbyist in Washington, DC. She is viewed by her colleagues as one of the best in the business with a track record that proves just that. Sloane is recruited by the head of the national gun lobby to help them pass the Heaton-Harris Bill which will change the rules and regulations of purchasing firearms in the United States. As Sloane listens to their pitch, she declines on the spot saying that the new bill goes against her own personal ethics and beliefs. Determined to pass this bill with or with her, the gun lobby hires George Dupont’s firm to represent their position. Sloane immediately quits her job at Dupont’s firm and joins a smaller competing lobbying firm to help ensure that this new gun bill never sees the light of day.
This is one of those films that I knew virtually nothing about prior to seeing. The trailer was released less than a month ago and came out of nowhere. No one was talking about this film but the premise and cast intrigued me which is why I jumped at the opporuntity to see it early. Miss Sloane is the type of film that won’t receive much attention from audiences simply due to its subject matter but it’s a film that should see and deserves to be seen.
While it may seem that the film is based on actual events, Jonathan Perera‘s screenplay is a work of fiction. The story focuses on a smart and powerful woman who dares to take on one of the most profitable and noteworthy lobbys in the United States. The fact that Perera decided to put a female as the focus of this type of story was a great choice. This is something that so few films today do probably because Studios are afraid to showcase strong female roles like the one presented her. The story is an inside look at the world of lobbying but is told from a female perspective.
While some may instantly think “oh, that’s going to be boring,” I assure you it is anything but. The film does take its time to get going but as the story unfolds you can’t help but become fully invested with the story and these characters. Miss Sloane is political thriller with several surprises sprinkled throughout. There are so many things occuring in the film dealing with manipulation that you would think you would see many of the surprises coming yet the film is so well-written and directed that you don’t catch them.
Jessica Chastian embodies Miss Sloane with so much care and conviction. This character is one of the darkest roles that Chastian has taken on in her career thus far. She owns this role and I couldn’t picture anyone else but Chastian as Sloane. This is without a doubt a tour-de-force performance and one that should earn her another Golden Globe and Oscar Nomination. Miss Sloane is a woman with so many layers and Chastian isn’t afraid to reveal them to the audience. She is the type of woman that isn’t afraid and will stop at nothing to get the job done. She is a master of manipulatation and can twist things around in order to get her way and prove her stance on the issue.
Even though the film is based around Chastian’s character and performance, there is no denying that John Madden picked a perfect cast to surround Chastian. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who has proven time and time again that she is an incredibly talened and underrated actress. She is simply terrific in this film and I loved how her character Esme was so different than Sloane. Mbatha-Raw and Chastian share some great moments together including a scene in a chinese restaurant as well as a grand reveal during a live television debate. There is some real passion and dedication in Mbatha-Raw’s performance and I applaud her in contining to take on female roles that defy the norms.
Alison Pill, Sam Waterston, Jake Lacy, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, and John Lithgow all have supporting roles in the film and are all excellent. While Waterston could play this character in his sleep at this stage of his career, it doesn’t take away from how good he is in the role. Strong is great as Sloane’s new boss Rodolfo and I loved the scenes where he would question her judgements only to be proved wrong later on. Pill is awesome as Jane and while she seems like she has very little screentime, her role definitely caught me offguard in the end. Stuhlbarg plays one of the competiting lobbyists and does so with great ease. Lithgow is spot on as Senator Sperling. Jake Lacy’s Robert Forde is a nice change of pace from the actor’s previous roles. His role is complicated and I loved that it had some mystery to it.
Smart and sophisticated while also intense and thrilling, Miss Sloane is a film that should not be missed. The performances, story, and direction are all top notch easily making Miss Sloane one of the year’s best films. I love what Chastian did with the material and while I have always had much love for Chastian as an actress, this is my new favorite performance. This is a film that females should seek out and be proud of. I am so glad to see that studios are finally taking chances on original material with strong female leads. We need more films like this one and can only hope that the film finds an audience and gets the attention it so rightly deserves come award season.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s rating for Miss Sloane is a 9 out of 10.